College Admissions Process - A Director's Perspective

Although high school students' senior years are exciting as they prepare for a new phase in life, it can also be a period of stress and apprehension. Many students feel rushed to make a decision about which college or university to attend. The application process can be very stressful, and it can be disheartening receiving rejection letters. However, applying and preparing for college does not have to be a period of unnecessary stress.

Graduating from high school is a major achievement in one's life. Even though the party is often short-lived for graduates entering college immediately after high school, there is no need to be too overwhelmed by the college admission process. The following steps will ease some of the stress associated with applying for college.

Simple Steps to Success

Answer these questions before making any application decisions:

  • Are you interested attending a local college or university or one located in another state?
  • Are you interested enrolling in a private or state subsidized university or college?
  • Are you interested living in on-campus dorms or an apartment not located on campus?
  • What major or subject do you intend to study?
  • Are you comfortable studying at a college far away from your hometown?

After answering the aforementioned questions, you will have a better idea of what you're seeking in a college or university, and you will have an easier time narrowing your list of schools after you conduct some research.


Conduct preliminary research on the Internet. You can review individual schools' websites and any other website providing information about specific colleges and universities.

Narrow your list of prospective schools to a list around 8-10 schools matching your preferred criteria. To further narrow this list, take time to consider these questions:

1. Do these schools offer your potential major?
2. What are the annual tuition and fees?
3. Are these schools recognized by reputable accreditation agencies?
4. Is the instructor to student ratio large or small?
5. Do these schools have student dorms?
6. What types of extra-curricular activities are available at these schools?
7. Is there a lot of crime on the campuses of these schools?
8. Are there meal plans available at these schools?

After answering these questions, narrow your list down to 5 potential colleges or universities to attend.

Application and Visitation

Now that there are just a few schools left on your list, review the application instructions, and, if possible, tour each school's campus. Most schools sponsor arranged tours for students who schedule them. In many cases, students tour schools they plan to attend only to change their minds after their campus visits. Students often get a good feel for whether or not they should attend a school after a campus tour.

Carefully review application requirements before filling out college applications. Some schools may have minimum ACT/SAT score and GPA requirements. Before submitting an application, it's good to find out what admission committees will take into consideration before making their decision. For example, many committees will consider extra-curricular activity involvement and community service participation before making their admission decisions. After reviewing the admission requirements, you may further narrow the list of schools you have interest in attending. It's also very important to know when applications are due because many schools will not review applications after deadlines.

The Decision

After completing campus tours and submitting applications, stay in touch with admission committees as they make their decisions. After acceptance letters arrive, notify the school you wish to attend of your decision. Many schools require students living in dorms to pay a deposit by a certain date. Now you can focus on preparing for the academic rigors of college. As you enter college, make the most of your time. Attend class, be disciplined in your studies, and take advantage of academic and social activities held on campus.

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